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Building Brands

PoV: You’re the SaaS Social Media Intern

August 09, 2022 · 6 min read

Finally, it’s my time to shine :)

I’m Sailor, and I recently finished my tenure as Air’s first-ever social media intern. Here’s what I learned.

First, some background: I’m 21 years old, going into my senior year at Washington State University, majoring in Advertising and Hospitality. I’m the odd one out in my family of six — they all work in the tech or medical fields, but I found my passion in visual content creation and social media marketing.

Finding TikTok virality in my personal life

I grew my personal TikTok account to 80,000 followers over a few years after having several videos showcasing my life go viral, most notably one of me slicing a bagel with a bagel guillotine, which garnered over 40 million views.

The key to success for my personal TikTok was to understand what would drive an emotional reaction from my audience and use that lever to create content. I documented the behind-the-scenes of a “Photo with Santa” booth I used to work at, knowing it would anger people, which led to multiple viral videos. I told elaborate self-deprecating stories, knowing they would drive comments, which also produced multiple viral videos.

Switching over to a B2B brand was very different because the specific type of engagement actually mattered. I had no problem with getting hate comments on my own account because the only person it affected was me. With an actual brand, with actual business goals, not only did I want a lot of engagement, I wanted the engagement to be positive, and from specific types of people, which is astoundingly harder to do.

Figuring out how to find TikTok virality as a brand account

When I joined Air, I had absolutely no knowledge at all of tech startups. Or startups in general for that matter. I actually had to watch a 20-minute crash course on startups after my first day because I was so confused by all the acronyms that were being used in meetings.

The goal of Air’s social media channels was to start a conversation about the company and to become more relevant in contemporary culture.

I wanted people to have an understanding of who we are, our values, and our company culture. With every TikTok, Short, and Reel, I increased brand awareness, built potential customer trust, and established core messaging with our social media audience.

When I took over the corporate TikTok account, I thought growth was going to come easily. After a week on the account, I was immensely humbled.

Notable comments from my first week on Air’s TikTok include:

“No one gives a shi*”

“How r u verified your not even funny”

“What happened to the other guy running the account”

“nah wtf”

“    “

[The blank space represents no comments at all… which is arguably worse than the hate comments]

After the negative reaction and lack of engagement to my initial TikToks, I devised two goals: First, I wanted to grow the account and raise overall engagement with content that would be well received. But more importantly, I wanted to reshape the audience to our target demographic

How to grow a SaaS brand’s TikTok account

  • Engage with your audience.

    This doesn’t mean just responding to comments. I spent at least two hours every day scrolling on the @meetair TikTok account, liking videos that fit with our target audience, commenting on videos I liked, and (most importantly) looking for ideas for what kind of content I wanted to make.

  • Use TikTok frequently.

    This is probably very obvious, but to be successful on any kind of social media, you need to be up-to-date on all the trends and jokes on each platform. Trending jokes and sounds only last for about 3 days on the app, so it was important that I moved quickly, and was never late to a trend.

  • Engagement is king.

    As a 21-year-old sorority girl, I initially wanted to prioritize making our social media accounts “pretty” and aesthetically pleasing…it was all I knew how to do. However, aesthetics alone don’t necessarily drive engagement, especially when you’re working for a tech startup. The best kind of content is simply whatever stops someone from mindlessly scrolling and creates a reaction so strong that they just have to leave a comment. Our aesthetics-first content wasn’t doing that. With every TikTok I made, my mindset was focused on how we could drive the most shares and comments possible. If that meant painting my face yellow and dressing as a minion…so be it.

  • Utilize every platform.

    While I started on TikTok, all social media had recently been “TikTokifed.” I started reposting TikToks on Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts, and saw significant engagement on both platforms. In fact, Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts actually started outperforming our TikTok account. My low-performing TikTok became my highest-performing YouTube Short. The theory behind using Shorts and Reels is that both of these platforms are newer than TikTok, and have fewer amount of “bots,” making it easier to get views and engagement.

  • Be weird and be niche.

    All social media is oversaturated with the same recycled jokes and ideas. I wanted to (and I did) make content that would stop a viewer from scrolling, and actually watch the content (hopefully engage as well). The best performing TikTok I made was a fancam of the Air logo set to Shawn Mendes’ song “Air.” It was different, it was weird (a tech startup making a velocity edit?!), and it used a Shawn Mendes song that just so happened to repeat the company name in the lyrics, over and over.

  • Whatever you do, DO NOT sound like an advertisement.

    As someone majoring in advertising…the cold hard truth is that no one wants to watch ads. The moment someone realizes you’re trying to sell them something, it’s lights out. They don’t want to listen, and they don’t trust you. Instead, I utilized what could be considered “product placement” and value-add videos. I incorporated Air’s product using trending formats and jokes. Minions trending? I dressed as a minion and showed an Air workspace filled with images of bananas. Another high-performing TikTok I created responded to hate comments about the size of my forehead, and I used Air’s annotation commenting to highlight my forehead and request that someone “make smaller.” Instead of selling, I was showing — adding value to the video and driving engagement by drawing sympathy from people reading the hate comments about my physical appearance.

As my internship came to a close, I found the most important principle for my work was to be genuine in everything. TikTok and the multitude of similar video platforms are so successful because consumers are tired of faceless, detached ads that try too hard to sell. At its core, social media is a way to connect with others, and even representing a SaaS business, I was able to connect with an audience on social media. I created genuine relationships and connections that could not have been created anywhere else but TikTok. I’m really thankful for my time at Air, and for teaching me all of the ins and outs of a remote tech startup.

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